Rivian Is Preparing for Money Troubles Ahead

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Rivian will meet with workers to explain upcoming cuts, Aptera wants Congress to mandate EVs use Tesla’s Supercharger plug, and SAS is resuming talks with union pilots in hopes of ending the strike. All that and more in The Morning Shift for July 13, 2022.

1st Gear: Rivian

Earlier this week, reports surfaced saying that Rivian could cut 5% of its workers after years of growth. Now, CEO RJ Scaringe has reportedly sent a staff-wide email on that very topic, teasing a Friday meeting. From Reuters:

EV maker Rivian Automotive Inc. plans to brief employees on Friday on potential layoffs and plans to suspend some programs as part of a broader restructuring, CEO RJ Scaringe said in an email sent to employees on Monday evening.

In his email, which was shared by the company with Reuters, Scaringe said the company is “financially well positioned,” but that it has begun “prioritizing certain programs (and) stopping some.”

Rivian also has halted some non-manufacturing hiring, while “adopting major cost-down efforts” to reduce expenses, he said.

Scaringe said the company has begun to “assess the size and structure of our teams” and will be “as thoughtful as possible as we consider any reductions” in employee head count.

Rivian makes some amazing vehicles, but the company’s approach to automaking is heavy on vertical integration. It’s arguably a better way to run, but it’s certainly not cheap — especially for a company that’s just getting started.

2nd Gear: Aptera Thinks Global Standard Charging Plugs Are Overrated, Wants Tesla Connectors Instead

You know how every phone in the world charges over USB-C except the iPhone, which is (for now) still using Lightning? Imagine if Blackberry showed up on the Senate’s doorstep one day, begging them to mandate that every company use Lightning. That’s sort of what Aptera is doing right now. From Electrek:

Aptera has launched a petition to ask Congress to make Tesla Superchargers and its plug the standard for electric vehicles in the US.

[…]

While CCS has now been globally adopted, it doesn’t necessarily make it the best charging standard out there, and that’s what Aptera believes.

[…]

Now Aptera cofounders Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro have launched a petition on Change.org to ask Congress to make Tesla Superchargers and its plug the standard for electric vehicles in the US:

“If you agree that Tesla’s charging standards are good for EVs and the U.S., please help. Sign this petition and encourage decision-makers in Congress to adopt Tesla’s charging standards and connectors as the U.S. industry standard. With Washington D.C.’s goal for 50% of car sales to be electric by 2030, our country needs to adopt Tesla Supercharger and Plug standards before another dollar is wasted on inferior technology.”

As part of their arguments, they mention that the current CCS and SAE J1772 standards are “clunky, cumbersome, and expensive” compared to “Tesla’s lightweight, incredibly efficient, elegant connector.”

Part of Aptera’s argument seems to be that the Tesla connector would fit better on the company’s tiny EVs. Is that one factor worth overturning a global standard, and setting the United States down a divergent path that would make it harder for the country to adopt EVs? Probably not!

3rd Gear: SAS Is Resuming Negotiations With Union Pilots

Well well well, look who’s starting to see the power of organized labor. Pilots for the Scandinavian airline SAS have been on strike for ten days now, after the company decided that the union’s offer to work longer hours for less pay wasn’t good enough. As costs and cancellations mount, however, it seems the airline has come crawling back to the bargaining table. From Reuters:

Scandinavian airline SAS (SAS.ST) and unions representing striking pilots resumed talks over a new collective bargaining agreement on Wednesday as the walkout entered its 10th day.

The pilots strike, which started in July 4, is now costing it $10 million to $13 million a day and has forced it to cancel more 1,200 flights at the peak of the summer travel season.

Much of the strike seems to hinge on SAS’s decision not to re-hire pilots that had been laid off during the early-pandemic travel lull, instead choosing to meet resurgent demand with new pilots hired at lower rates through subsidiary companies. As a reinvigorated labor movement continues to gain steam, companies are finding out that previous cost-cutting methods no longer fly with workers.

4th Gear: The Spirit/Frontier Vote Is Getting Pushed Back

Spirit and Frontier have been trying to merge for some time now, but it seems both airlines’ investors have been a bit skittish about the deal. Now, the companies are pushing back the merger’s vote date, in hopes that they can swing a few more shareholders to a more favorable opinion. From the Wall Street Journal:

Spirit Airlines Inc. agreed to push back its shareholder vote on its merger with Frontier Group Holdings Inc. as the two sides try to win more support from skeptical investors.

Spirit on Wednesday said it would delay the vote until July 27 and reiterated its preference for being bought by fellow discount airline Frontier instead of JetBlue Airways Corp., a deal which Spirit has said faces significant regulatory risks.

The vote, most recently scheduled for July 15, has now been pushed back four times.

A Spirit/Frontier merger would create the U.S.’s fifth-largest airline, which could still see regulatory hurdles. No matter who, if anyone, buys Spirit, one thing is certain: Airplane seats will only get worse.

5th Gear: Audi, Porsche, And Bentley EVs Are Getting Delayed By Software Issues

Volkswagen Auto Group tasked a subsidiary, Cariad, with writing the code for its flagship EVs. It looks like that isn’t going too well for anyone involved, because those EVs are now being delayed by years. From Automotive News Europe:

Audi, Porsche and Bentley could be forced to delay key new electric cars because of continued problems at parent Volkswagen Group’s software subsidiary Cariad.

Audi’s new flagship, which is being developed under the Artemis project, will not now launch until 2027, three years later than planned, sources told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.

Bentley’s plan to sell only battery-powered cars by 2030 is looking doubtful, the sources also said.

Porsche’s new electric Macan and its sister model, the Audi Q6 e-tron, are also threatened with delays. Both are scheduled to launch next year.

Cariad is far behind schedule in its development of new software for the models, according to a report in Automobilwoche.

As someone who used to write software for fun (I was an incredibly cool child), it always takes longer and works less well than you plan. Whatever your worst case scenario is, plan for something worse than that.

Reverse: The Scene In Bohemian Rhapsody With CGI That Looked Like A PlayStation 2 Game

Neutral: How Are You Staying Cool?

I was perusing a Naomi Wu thread this morning about personal cooling solutions, and am now back on my “designing and constructing a thermoelectric cooling armband” concept that I’ve had on-and-off for years. Do you have an easier method?

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